False rape claims “devastating” say wrongly accused, Newsbeat website, bbc.co.uk: Finding by the Editorial Complaints Unit

Complaint

A reader of the item complained that it gave the impression that false rape claims are common, when in fact they are the reverse.

 

Outcome

The item, which focused on the impact of false rape claims on those involved, was commissioned to coincide with publication of a Crown Prosecution Service study which (in the words of the Editor of Newsbeat) “set out to establish how common such false rape allegations were”.  Having cited the study’s figure of two prosecutions per month for falsely alleging rape, the item went on to say “It’s the first time details for England and Wales have been compiled, showing how common the problem is”.  In the context of this indicative statement, the phrase “how common” tended to suggest that false rape allegations were indeed frequent.  In response to complaints, however, “common” had been changed to “unusual” before the reader’s complaint reached the ECU.  As the item also included two quotations from credible sources which made clear that false rape claims were in fact relatively uncommon, the ECU took the view that the change to “unusual” sufficed to resolve the issue of complaint.

Resolved

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